Press release August 23, 2022
Angola: Government Must Uphold Human Rights during Election Period
The authorities have an obligation to ensure full respect for human rights and to support public participation during and after the August 24 general elections.
Ahead of national elections in Angola on August 24, Tiseke Kasambala, director for Africa programs at Freedom House, issued the following statement:
“The restrictive human rights environment in Angola does not bode well for the freedom and fairness of the forthcoming elections. Conditions have deteriorated over the past two years, with security forces committing extrajudicial killings, engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions, and harassing and beating activists. While human rights activists have not reported intimidation or attacks in the weeks leading up to the elections, Freedom House remains concerned about possible violence and violations of the freedoms of speech, assembly, and movement, both during the elections and after results are announced.
“The National Election Commission’s decision to cap the number of Angolan election observers at just 2,000 observers for 26,480 polling stations, the low number of regional and international observers, and restrictions on the movement of these monitors are all likely to have a negative effect on the voting rights of Angolans.
“The Angolan authorities have an obligation to ensure full respect for human rights during this election period. They should immediately lift restrictions on the movement of election observers in line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and take other steps to create an environment that is conducive to a free and fair process on election day and in the days after. The Angolan government should guarantee that the security forces will not harass, intimidate, or attack activists. Political parties should refrain from inciting violence and condemn any acts of violence that do occur. And those suspected of such crimes should be held accountable.”
In the country’s fifth multiparty general elections, President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço and his ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), face stiff competition from opposition leader Adalberto Costa Júnior, head of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and an informal coalition of other opposition parties, the United Patriotic Front (FPU).
Early in his first term, President Lourenço was widely hailed for improving human rights conditions and addressing endemic corruption. In the past two years, however, opposition to the president and his government has grown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic downturn, and a developing humanitarian crisis. Public anger at the government’s inability to address these significant challenges has led to protests, and security forces have responded with increasing use of force and the arbitrary arrest and detention of scores of activists.
In January and February 2021, for example, security forces shot and killed at least 10 protesters in the mining town of Cafunfo, Lunda Norte Province. In April 2022, police arrested 22 activists in the capital, Luanda, as they peacefully demonstrated against the detention of political prisoners and demanded free and fair elections.
The authorities have also sought to prevent civic groups from holding meetings. In May 2022, police attempted to prevent the organizations Association for the Development of Human Rights and Culture (ADCDH) and Omunga from holding a peace-building conference in Cabinda Province.
Angola is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2022 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2021.
Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to create a world where all are free. We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders.
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